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12 Jul 2010

Orange cake: one and a hundred

From the records of this blog, you might have realized that I do not really bake that much; I usually do so more for catering than for private appreciation.
It is more than one year already that a friend of mine asked me to bake for her a weekly orange cake. I worked over the recipe she gave me to bring it to my liking (though still I could tweak it) but after the beginning excitement it all looked quite repetitive.
As usual, I do not really like to repeat my things over and over again if not for the purpose of development so I ended up producing quite a certain variety of orange cakes. The cake is a really nice one, neither too sweet nor too rich but very aromatic and satisfying and different garnishing add specific accents to the orange flavor; Chinese rice wine, rose’s petals, rose water and orange blossom water, tarragon, pink pepper, gooseberries or rhubarb played all a role in one version or another.
This post serves the purpose to show how versatile a single cake recipe can be, without the need of including a frosting or pastry cream of any sorts.

Basic and delicious Orange Cake

Ingredients (make a 28x1.5cm/11x1/2in round cake):

  • 100g butter at room temperature;
  • 125g granulated sugar;
  • Zest of 3 oranges;
  • 1 Large egg yolk;
  • 2 Large eggs;
  • 25g canola oil;
  • 100ml total of orange juice and liquid flavorings (like Chinese rice wine, Sherry, orange blossom or rose water);
  • 225g all purpose flour;
  • 9g baking powder;
  • Garnishes.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, or in a glass bowl if you are using a hand held beater, place the soft butter and beat at medium speed for a good 5 minutes. Gradually add the sugar continuing beating for a whole of 8-10 minutes till the mixture will look fluffy, pale yellow and not so gritty. Add the orange zest and beat it in slightly.
While you are beating the butter, mix together the flour and the baking powder using a whisk for a good 30 seconds and warm up the oven to 180deg C. To prepare the baking tin (better to use a spring form), butter and flour it and lay the bottom with a circle of baking paper.
Add the egg yolk to the butter and sugar mixture beating it in till well combined, then add the whole eggs one at a time still beating at medium speed till they are well combined and the mixture looks smooth. With the beater still on, add the oil in a thin stream so to not break the emulsion (think at mayonnaise).
On the lowest speed, beat in the flour and the liquid flavorings little at a time alternating them.
Poor the batter in the baking tin, level it using a spatula and bang the tin on the counter top a few time to let the big air bubbles come to the surface.
Slide the tin in the oven and bake for roughly 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake will come out clean and dry.
Once ready, let the cake cool down for 5-10 min in the tin before inverting over a cooling rack. Peel off the baking paper and invert immediately the cake on the service platter or on a cardboard round, otherwise the grate with leave marks on the top of the cake.
Let cool completely and decorate to your liking.

This cake is quite moist and crumbly so it is perfect for being soaked with flavored syrup or orange juice. I usually like to finish it with few tablespoons of fruit jelly (apricots, quince or mixed) lightly diluted and warmed up. If you let the cake cool in the fridge for a while, the jelly will form a shiny layer on top of the cake.

How to pimp up your cake now that it is glazed?
Use plastic chocolate to model some roses to crown the orange disk with some orange supremes;
garnish it with orange supremes, candied orange peels and pink pepper;
and what about lime peels, pink peppercorns, pistachio nuts and a little sprinkle of crashed long peppercorns?
One of my favorite garnishing is tarragon leaves, pink peppercorns, pistachio nuts and orange supreme or crashed long peppercorns.
When in season strawberries and blueberries make a perfect addition to your cake;
you can also mix some of the fruit with the batter (the cake will also raise a bit more).
Got a special occasion? Enrich your cake with red rose petals, lime zest and lime gelatin drops.

This is just to show you a sample of the possible versions of this versatile, fast and delicious cake.


  1. Yumolicious. You know how much I adore orange.

  2. Oh my, it's drooling gorgeous! Are you sure you aren't baking a lot. It seems to me you are baking more than I am. ;) I love orange cakes but no hub or little one. They like only in juice. *sigh*

  3. Wow. Have you really made this cake every week? It looks very vibrant. I love all your different toppings.

  4. Aha! this is what keeps you busy every week!! ;-)).. I like the lime garnish best! Not a fan of tarragon, so would have differ with you on that :)

  5. amazing cake I blog for a FL citrus grower can I feature it and link to you


    rebeccasubbiah at yahoo dot com

  6. Hi Alessio, nowadays guys can also cook & bake so well! Your orange cake looks great. Looking forward for more to come. Hope you're having a fabulous day.
    Cheers, Kristy

  7. This cake is so simple to make but tastes awesome! I tried making this last night and my kids loved it. Thank you for sharing this recipe, I am sure that this would be made in our house at least once a month. It would go well with coffee, too bad my espresso grinder is broken. Kudos!

  8. @Michael Glad your kids liked the cake, it is an easy way to have them eat their fruits eheh I usually eat it with tea though, it can be quite a delicate cake to stand up to coffee, depends how strong is it though :)